But first get a wolf

Help

Lay down beside me I signaled to my wolf
Three pats of the sofa in the early morn
Then two pats of the heart to say why.
He did it silently, no reply when one does
What’s to do. I must rest my hand on you
For a while for the usual reasons. This
Is easy to say between wolves or wolves and people
And difficult between people. For instance
A person might not want to absorb by touch another’s pain
Then. The wolf loves to. The person might say
Oh all right, but clearly a burden to ease another’s pain.
If you keep a wolf, there isn’t much more they do
But they are specially good at it
Like the surf loves to be splashed with a whole bottle of poison water,
Try that and see if the waves don’t turn over embracing without end,
Try that and see if you can find any poison after two seconds,
Or slowly slide your fingers through the first layer
Of your wolf’s coat to the second layer and move fingers
Head to tail, tail to head, slower than slowly.
Anything could have happened to you yesterday
And you’d soon be okay. But first get a wolf.

Arthur Vogelsang

Expedition: New and Selected Poems
The Ashland Poetry Press

Arthur Vogelsang’s books include Cities and Towns (University of Massachusetts Press, 1996), winner of the Juniper Prize, and Twentieth Century Women (University of Georgia Press, 1988), which was selected by John Ashbery for the Contemporary Poetry Series.

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3 responses to “But first get a wolf

  1. I have a lump in my throat, and tears are leaking from my eyes. There are many lines that grabbed me, but this: “Slowly slide your fingers through the first layer/ of your wolf’s coat to the second layer and move fingers/ Head to tail, tail to head, slower than slowly./ Anything could have happened to you yesterday/ And you’d soon be okay. But first get a wolf.” with its particular, and so familiar to me, description of a certain way of touching/being with your dog/your wolf is incredible. Winter was a wolf, though she bore no resemblance to one. Thanks for sharing this. xoxo

  2. This one really got me, too, as you know from Facebook – I was totally unguarded and it just hit me like – well, like wolf.

  3. The lines that stung my eyes were early on:

    “Three pats of the sofa in the early morn
    Then two pats of the heart to say why.”

    because that is very, very nearly exactly Kelsey’s and my morning routine. The only differences are in the meter (ours is two-and-two, not three-and-two) and the specific site (bed not sofa).

    Thank you for sharing this.

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